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By Christine Mai-Duc, Los Angeles Times

A federal judge has ruled that BP’s “gross negligence” resulted in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that killed 11 people and spilled more than 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

In a ruling released Thursday, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier of New Orleans said that BP’s actions leading up to the well blowout were “reckless.”

In particular, Barbier said, the company’s decision to drill the last 100 feet of the well, left it in “extremely fragile condition” and made it vulnerable to blowout.

In the first phase of a trial that will ultimately determine how much companies will be penalized for violations of the Clean Water Act, Barbier assigned the majority of the fault in the incident to the oil giant, determining that oil services company Halliburton and BP’s drilling contractor, Transocean, were negligent but responsible to lesser degrees.

The judge determined that BP should hold 67 percent of the blame, while Transocean and Halliburton are responsible for 30 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

Halliburton announced Tuesday that it had settled most of its civil claims related to the spill for $1.1 billion.

The decision could have a major impact on the second phase of the trial, set to begin in January, which will determine the amount of penalties that BP could pay.

AFP Photo

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